GSM Gaining Ground In North America

GSM supporters are talking up the fact that GSM use in North America grew 3 times as fast as CDMA use. That sounds great, but when you look at the absolute numbers, the relative growth information isn’t quite that big a deal. There are 71 million CDMA users in North America compared to 22 million GSM users – so looking at percentage changes is less important. Furthermore, since Cingular and AT&T Wireless are converting old TDMA networks over to GSM networks, this doesn’t indicate a great shift from CDMA to GSM, but just an upgrade path from TDMA. Addendum from Derek: The GSM story in South America is somewhat stronger, with GSM being successfully marketed as a “superior technology” and “the latest technology” (both points with which I disagree). GSM growth is at 132% year-over-year. Similar to the US, much of that is TDMA migration and CDMA is still a force. GSM’s strengths are not novelty or technological superiority, but are scale economies, global compatibility, and selection of vendors and equipment.

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